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Philippines defending territory, not smearing China, says DFA
Publication Date : 04-04-2014
“Countries should be judged by their actions, not by their words.”
Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said this in a statement Friday after China accused the Philippines of launching “a media campaign to smear the Chinese side.”
“The Philippines makes clear that it will continue to exercise self-restraint and will not raise tension in the South China Sea. The Philippines is not the country that has greatly increased its naval and maritime presence in the South China Sea,” del Rosario said in the statement.
“Nor has it challenged freedom of navigation. Nor has it blockaded nor forcefully intimidated any other country in the South China Sea,” he said referring to the recent events in Ayungin Shoal where Chinese Coast Guard ships prevented a Philippine vessel from delivering supplies and troops to the BRP Sierra Madre.
China also previously drove away Filipino fishermen from Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal) which it has exclusively controlled since the standoff in April 2012.
On Thursday, Chinese Embassy spokesperson Zhang Hua, said in a statement that the Philippines’ move to seek arbitration before the UN Arbitral Tribunal is based on wrong facts.
“The Philippines’ arbitration proceeding completely confuses right and wrong, distorts the fact and diverts attentions. The aim of its move is to cover up the illegal nature of [the] Philippines’ infringement and provocative behavior by the abuse of process against China, and to defraud the international community of its sympathy and support,” Zhang said.
“By submitting the memorial to the arbitral tribunal, the Philippine side has launched a media campaign to smear the Chinese side by playing up the South China Sea issue and the arbitration proceeding,” he said.
Philippines submitted to the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) its memorial on March 30 seeking to invalidate China’s nine-dash line claim over 90 percent of the South China Sea including parts of the Philippines’ 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone.
“By going to arbitration, the Philippines has signaled its fidelity to international law,” del Rosario said. “We reiterate that arbitration is a peaceful, friendly and a durable settlement mechanism under international law.”
Del Rosario, however, said that they will no longer give out details about the ongoing arbitration proceedings because it is now “sub judice” or under judgement.
“The Philippines, at this point, will not be able to reply to detailed questions regarding its submission to the Arbitral Tribunal since this matter is sub judice,” he said.
“With the submission of the Philippine Memorial and with the support of the Filipino people, we are defending what is legitimately and rightfully ours,” del Rosario said.